Smoky Mountains Sunrise
Showing posts with label Neo-Conservatism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Neo-Conservatism. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Why Are We Baiting the Bear?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Is the Senate trying to reignite the Cold War?

If so, it is going about it the right way.

Before departing for a five-week vacation, the Senate voted to declare Abkhazia and South Ossetia to be provinces of Georgia illegally occupied by Russian troops who must get out and return to Russia.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

An Open Letter to Sarah Palin

How I wish Governor Palin could slip away from the watchful eyes of her handlers and join Pat Buchanan and the editors of The American Conservative Magazine for a long dinner and discussion. Here's their attempt to save the greatest hope the conservative movement has had since Ronald Reagan.

To: Gov. Sarah Palin
From: The American Conservative Editors
Re: What Your Tutors Aren’t Telling You

Congratulations on being chosen as John McCain’s running mate. It’s an honor, if a dubious one. As you know, conservatives have reservations about McCain. To your credit, they have few such concerns about you.

You’ve given new life to a party whose brand was bankrupt. You’ve energized a campaign that was embarrassing its own partisans. Across America, crowds flock to see you—not that old man who barely wheezed his way through the primaries. If John McCain wins, he will owe you, as the guy in the undisclosed location says, “Big time.”

Wonder why Middle America finds you irresistible? Maybe they’re big Tina Fey fans. More likely, you remind them of the conservative values they feared lost: faith, family, independence. This impression owes more to who you are than what you’ve done. But at least you keep Obama from cornering the market on hope. Conservatives have faith in you. Don’t fail them as George W. Bush has.

You see what happened: the president’s entire domestic agenda collapsed under the weight of his failed foreign policy. Social Security reform stalled. Pro-lifers became political orphans. And whatever gains Bush’s tax cuts secured were wiped out by record spending. Everything was subordinated to the war on terror.

Conservatives grasping for something to commend give the president points for his judicial picks. But he would have much preferred justices like Alberto Gonzales and Harriet Miers—toadies whose top qualification was their willingness to give the executive more power.

The party that championed the things you prize—individual liberty, fiscal restraint, and a strong defense—has trampled civil rights, pushed us to the brink of insolvency, and broken our Armed Forces. After eight years of Bush, even diehard Republicans are glad to see him go. You might have noticed the elephant not in the room in St. Paul.

There’s a better way. In fact, you figured it out in the 1996 presidential primary when you sported the flair of the leading pro-life candidate. (Your minders would prefer that we not mention his name. It triggers their Tourette’s.) As you surely know, even beyond social issues, he represents a strain of conservatism that offers a consistent ethic of life and philosophy of limited government. It was not a coincidence that the most pro-life candidate in ’96 was also passionately noninterventionist.

It’s also no coincidence that those who want you to heed the siren call of global democratization care little for traditionalist causes. Recall that second night of the Republican Convention when you were told to blow off a reception in your honor hosted by Phyllis Schlafly so Joe Lieberman could chaperone your debut before the directors of AIPAC. Neoconservatives pay lip service to life, but, as their enthusiasm for Lieberman shows, they have higher priorities. Now they plan to make them yours.

You’ll find the new friends conducting your foreign-policy crash course pleasant enough, if a little dogmatic and a lot condescending. They call you “Project Sarah.” We saw that one staffer at AEI—that mystery monogram on all your briefing books—said you’re “a blank slate.” He added, “She’s going places, and it’s worth going there with her.” That’s how they operate. They don’t implement their agenda themselves. Rather, they impose it on rising star. If things don’t work out, it’s because the Project wasn’t sufficiently committed. (Just ask President Bush.)

Now you’re the latest object of their attention, and you’re probably finding the program a bit confusing. They tell you that the U.S. is fighting “World War IV,” a struggle against “Islamofascism.” We can win, they say, as long as we’re prepared to bomb Iran and build up the national-security establishment at home, just like Reagan did.

Trouble is, your tutors also believe we’re still engaged in “World War III,” the Cold War with Russia. So maybe the Gipper didn’t win that one after all. In fact, neoconservatives like Norman Podhoretz chided Reagan for appeasing Moscow. And when terrorists struck the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983, Reagan, instead of “staying the course,” withdrew our troops. Your Beltway suitors prescribe the opposite of Reagan’s strategy.

And as they would have it, we’re not only waging World Wars III and IV, we’re still fighting World War II. At least, that’s the way it sounds when Robert Kagan opens a Washington Post op-ed by likening Russia’s conflict with Georgia to Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia.

But Russia is not Germany, Georgia is no innocent Czechoslovakia, and Vladimir Putin is not Adolf Hitler—no matter what your guru Randy Scheunemann says. (He probably forgot to tell you that he used to lobby for the government of Georgia.)

Here’s a hint: don’t believe everything you read in the papers, especially if the byline is Kristol or Krauthammer. Russia is not an expansionist, ideological empire. It’s a traditional, semi-authoritarian great power intent on preserving its influence in its own backyard and its prestige on the world stage. That’s why Russia intercedes in the domestic disputes of unruly states on its periphery. Putin balks at Poland hosting our antimissile systems for the same reason we would bristle at Cuba or Mexico receiving Chinese antitank missiles.

With more validity, some of the people whispering in your ear tell you that Moscow wants to corner the European markets for oil and natural gas. And what nefarious end does Putin have in mind? Raising prices and reinforcing Moscow’s political clout, not with nuclear blackmail but with good, old-fashioned economic power. We have plenty of that ourselves (or at least we used to). Putin, far from being a totalitarian ideologue, is an economic nationalist, as the leaders of great powers traditionally have been.

Then there’s the Middle East, where only American arms (and lives) can prevent little Israel from being swept into the sea by Muslim hordes. Surely that’s what AIPAC told you that night you left Phyllis cooling her heels. But again, it isn’t true. Israel has nuclear weapons, for one thing, and can outfight her neighbors even without resort to atom bombs. Israel’s problem isn’t external threat so much as internal security and demographics. When the Jewish state was founded, tens of thousands of Palestinians—Christians as well as Muslims—lost their homes. Palestine was no wide-open Alaskan frontier: when the newcomers moved in, Arabs were moved out, often by force. Terrorism didn’t come to the region with Hamas or Hezbollah; decades earlier groups like the Stern Gang and Irgun used violence to clear the way for Israel’s creation. Nor was Palestinian Authority leader Yassar Arafat the first terrorist to lead a state in the Holy Land. Israeli Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir had unclean hands as well.

While your minders probably don’t put much stock in his work, University of Chicago political scientist Robert Pape has shown that suicide terrorism develops almost always among occupied peoples. The task before the Israelis is not to defend themselves against aggressive neighbors but to give justice to the Palestinians already in their midst—to suppress terrorism without suppressing civil liberties and human rights, which only leads to more bloodshed. The most helpful role the United States can play is that of impartial mediator in the conflict. There is injustice and suffering on both sides.

No doubt you’ve been told (again and again) that Iran wants to “wipe Israel off the map.” Here’s something to keep in mind: Iran does not have nuclear weapons and is far from attaining them. Ironically, the Bush Doctrine’s pledge that “America is committed to keeping the world’s most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the most dangerous regimes” makes rogue states like Iran more likely to seek nuclear devices, as a deterrent against pre-emptive U.S. strikes. This is a vicious circle. Instead of boxing Iran into a corner, we should engage with Ahmadinejad, unsavory fellow though he is. Even with nuclear weapons, Iran would not pose an existential threat to Israel, let alone America.

Since you had some difficulties in your oral exam with Charlie Gibson, your new friends will no doubt ramp up their lessons. (For the record, you can scarcely be blamed for fumbling the answer about the Bush Doctrine. Your tutors were clearly reluctant to bring it up, even though the whole scheme was theirs, not Project George’s.)

They may even start assigning you book reports. It will feel like the third grade, except the subjects won’t be charming orphans. Now it’s rogue states against America the Benevolent. Near the top of the list will be An End to Evil by Richard Perle and David Frum. They’d have you think that Muslims will impose Islamic law on America if we don’t go to war with 18 different countries. But you know that a bunch of Muslims can’t make red-blooded, moose-hunting Americans wear burqas. Think what happens if you try to get a book pulled out of the library.

That’s only the beginning of the curriculum. You’ll be handed titles like Present Dangers and The Return of History. Thankfully, just like third grade, you don’t really have to read them. If they ask, just say, “The enemies of freedom won’t be appeased. We must stand firm, like Churchill.”

Meanwhile, we suggest sneaking a look at The Limits of Power by Andrew Bacevich. It’s stern stuff, but he gets to the point: America can’t spend money it doesn’t have, beat everyone up, and expect to stay healthy, wealthy, and wise. If you want a good book on how America screwed up in Iraq, there is Fiasco by Thomas Ricks. You said some nice things about Ron Paul during the primary. He gave Giuliani a list of books that might be worth your time.

You’ll have to keep your extracurriculars quiet. We know how these things work. Since he helped you break into the big leagues, you have to toe McCain’s line. But the outgoing administration has shown us how powerful a veep can be. If you go all the way, President McCain will be in your debt. (If he forgets, ask him how many rallies he held while you were home in Alaska. He wisely opted not to deliver speeches in phone booths.) Don’t leave your maverick spirit on the campaign trail.

Despite all the briefing books being thrown at you, you know your own mind—and you realize that the neoconservative agenda doesn’t square with your worldview. You prize localism, their vision is grandiose. You value fiscal discipline, neocons will ruin the country to finance endless war. You honor life, and they think nothing of killing hundreds of thousands in the service of ideology. But they’ll tell you this alien vision—imported from the Left—is coherent and conservative.

It is neither, but your supporters are both. They’ve turned against this war and definitely don’t want another. Yet your running mate does. Perhaps you’ve noticed that his interest in domestic policy pales alongside his foreign-policy ambitions. Or maybe you caught his virtuoso performance of “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.”

You surely see that the Bush policies have come to a dead end. If the millions poised to vote for you wanted four more years, the president’s approval rating wouldn’t be 25 percent. This isn’t because Republicans dislike Bush personally or disagree with his positions on energy and taxes. It’s because they know that his main legacy—the Iraq War—is a disaster.

Thankfully, they don’t think you’re like him. They see in you someone like themselves—a patriot and a mother. The Middle Americans waiting hours to hear you speak don’t want the United States to be defeated, and they don’t want Iraq to be a haven for al-Qaeda—something it never was before the invasion. They are pleased that the surge has made it more possible to leave because they don’t want to send their boys back for a third or fourth tour. They want America to come home—not because she’s weak but because she’s wise. They hope that you are, too.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Reasserting Authentic Conservative Principles

The First Congress at Prayer.

Those feeling demoralized by the political choices confronting the American electorate would be well-served to read
President Eisenhower's Farewell Address and the following article by John Laughland, recently published by The Brussels Journal.

Even as conservatives survey the rubble and wreckage that the Bush Administration has made of the once-dominant conservative movement in the United States, we are being urged farther down a desolate road of accommodation and compromise. We are told to accept what we are offered because the alternative candidate will be so much worse. But the lesser of two evils is still evil, and compromise with evil is both morally wrong and will only further diminish "the shining city upon a hill."

It will be a long and difficult struggle to rebuild a political movement founded on belief in God-given "unalienable rights," liberty, limited government, and constitutionalism. However, when a wrong turn has been taken we do not get to our destination by continuing down the same road, but by turning back and correcting our mistake.

What Henry Kissinger calls the "new international architecture" is under construction. Conservatives may feel overwhelmed and tired, our tools are worn out, but we must resist it, knowing that we have what the totalitarians and secular internationalists do not, the power of Truth and a vision of a truly Christian civilization.

What I Believe: Washington as Dangerous as Brussels

By John Laughland

Ten years ago, I was vehemently pro-American. Like many British Conservatives (I use the capital ‘C’ deliberately, to denote supporters of The Conservative Party), I regarded the United States as almost the ideal society. More importantly, and also like many Conservatives, I regarded any questioning of the Anglo-American alliance as a taboo which was broken only by those whose views were dangerously and irredeemably left-wing. I believed that the main threat to my values came from the quasi-socialist political tradition of the European continent (a subject on which I wrote a book) and that the “Atlantic community” was the right response to, and defence from, that threat.

Now, ten years on, I have become completely the opposite. I am a consistent critic of American (and British) foreign policy and I have long since despaired of the Eurosceptic movement in Britain, especially on the Right, which excoriates France for an allegedly servile attitude towards Germany while at the same time demanding that Britain behave with the same servility towards Washington. British Tories say they defend British sovereignty against Brussels but they see nothing wrong in having Britain’s foreign and defence policy subjected entirely to America’s. Indeed, any suggestion that Britain should have an independent military policy, for instance by not belonging to NATO, is regarded as the wildest heresy.

The change, for me, began with the bombing of Iraq in December 1998 and was completed by the Kosovo war in 1999. I opposed both operations, partly out of a revulsion for militarism but mainly because the latter war was patently incompatible with the doctrine of national sovereignty. (Indeed, it was deliberately intended to be so.) I quickly came to the conclusion that Washington wanted to create a supra-national New World Order as dangerous for the freedom of nations as the equally supra-national super-structure being set up in Brussels.

I also had the opportunity, through my membership of the British Helsinki Human Rights Group (now defunct), to observe political developments throughout the post-Communist world from 1998 onwards. I saw how American political operatives, from the Left and the Right, worked to ensure the victory at elections of their favoured politicians, often at the expense of the popular will and often thereby bringing back to power old Communists or people involved in organised crime. Whether these operations were conducted by the left-wing National Democratic Institute or the right-wing International Republican Institute, they pursued the same policy of doing down patriotic politicians keen to protect their countries’ interests and instead brought to power those who were only too ready to sell them out, usually to American corporate interests. That they pursued the same policies is no surprise: both NDI and IRI and funded by the same government body, the National Endowment for Democracy, which must now count as one of the most professional “regime change” agencies in the history of the world.

It was of course Bill Clinton who fought the Kosovo war. But the same policy of aggressive foreign policy has been continued, and massively amplified, by George W. Bush. Where Clinton invoked the (bogus) claims of universal human rights for his wars, Bush invoked U.N. Security Council Resolutions (as his father had done in 1990) to justify his drive for absolute American hegemony in the name of an international system based on a complete confusion between international relations and policing – the “war on terror”. These plans have been amply laid out by politicians on the Left and Right in America, from Zbigniew Brzezinski to Paul Wolfowitz. But, just as each French president is worse than his predecessor, so the Clinton years now seen like a golden age.

Have I changed or has the world? To be sure, I have partly changed. Many of my political friends now are on the Left. My book on the Milosevic trial was published by a very left-wing publisher (Pluto Press, the former publishing house of the Socialist Workers’ Party) and the preface was written by the notoriously left-wing former US Attorney General, Ramsey Clark, who has embraced every anti-American cause from the Sandinistas to Saddam Hussein. Ten years ago, this would not have happened.

But the change in me is not that I have become left-wing. It is that I have ceased to think (I hope) in terms of taboos. Much of what passes for thought on the Right in Britain is in fact nothing other than the searching out of intellectual tram-lines on which to base one’s views. Opinions are severely hedged around with taboos. If someone is critical of America, for instance, he must be a Marxist. Having defended a number of deeply unpopular causes (especially that of the former Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic) I believe that I can say that my thinking is taboo-free and that I instead analyse matters not tribally but instead on the basis of the facts.

The facts, as I see them, is that the cause of conservatism has been decisively abandoned by the Right in Britain, America and elsewhere. The Right in those countries is simply in favour of big business and turbo-capitalism which, as Chesterton said, is simply a way of centralising power (and capital) on a par with Communism. In America, the link to the arms industry is particularly worrying, since of course the arms industry entertains a particularly close relationship with the state. The Right in America under George Bush has become statist both in the sense that it believes in ever greater defence spending, and also in the fact that it bases American national identity on the country’s military in a way reminiscent of Germany-Prussia in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Even more profoundly, I am convinced that the neo-conservatism which unites both Bush and Clinton (including Hillary) is a revolutionary creed which has nothing whatever to do with conservatism. I have argued this view at length in The Spectator and The American Conservative. To put it briefly, neo-conservatism is a profoundly revolutionary ideology which betrays all the characteristics I, as a Catholic and a conservative, hate most. It is militaristic and millenarian; it is moralistic and Manichean; it is revolutionary and ruthless. Not only does it have its roots in Trostkyism (Irving Kristol boasted in 1983 that he was still proud of having joined the Fourth International, two years after Trotsky founded it); it remains an overtly revolutionary force with all the potential for wreaking havoc which many other revolutionary movements in history have displayed. Until that ideology is destroyed, until the stranglehold which the military-industrial complex has over the political class in America, and until a counter-weight to American hegemony emerges which permits the re-emergence of a multi-polar world order and the balance of power, the world will never be at peace.